I am a forensic scientist with the medical examiner’s office in Cleveland, Ohio. I should probably start out with what I’m not: I’m not a cop. I don’t interrogate suspects or chase them with guns. I am not a doctor. I don’t do autopsies or decide cause of death. I am not a lawyer. I don’t obtain arrest warrants or spend any more time at the courthouse than I absolutely have to. I am the person who sits in front of a computer for hours looking at the black lines of fingerprint patterns, climbs into an attic in August to retrieve the murder weapon, and plucks hair from the head of a prisoner who just beat his brother-in-law to death.
On any given day I might examine a victim’s clothing, comparing the bullet holes in the shirt to the bullet holes in his body, cut a stained sample of it for DNA testing and then do the Griess procedure on its surface to see how far away the killer was when he pulled the trigger. I might collect swabs from the victim’s hands to test for gunshot residue, even though that won’t prove that he did or did not fire a gun. I might go out to a bloodied living room to look at the pattern of red drops and determine a sequence of events. I might spend the whole day sitting around the courthouse waiting to testify, only to have the defendant take a plea as soon as he sees the jury’s stern faces. I might clean out the supply closet. I might reorganize thirty-year-old blood samples stored in the deep freeze…which smells really bad.
So there is no such thing as a typical day. And certainly, in Close to the Bone, this day turns into the most un-typical of them all. For here, in this battered, seventy year old building that is my second home, I came across the still-warm corpse of my co-worker–beaten to death in the deskman’s office with his blood scattered across the worn linoleum, the intake forms, the dog-eared list of funeral homes. I never really liked him, but that won’t stop me from searching through this dark, empty edifice full of the dead for his killer.
Now, hours later, my workspace is crawling with cops, who don’t even include my cousin the homicide detective because he is out of town on—very un-typical for Frank—a vacation. Instead I have only an unfamiliar but somehow interesting sergeant and my young BFF Don, our DNA analyst. When I stumble on another body it becomes clear that the killer is stalking medical examiner office employees and I don’t know why. If I don’t figure this out and soon, myself or Don—for whom I have long harbored very un-typical, and un-maternal, feelings—will be the next victim.
You can read more about Theresa in Close to the Bone, the seventh book in the “Theresa Maclean” mystery series, published by Severn House. The first book in the series is Takeover.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on October 16 for the chance to win a copy of CLOSE TO THE BONE. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.
About the author
Lisa Black spent the five happiest years of her life in a morgue. As a forensic scientist in the Cleveland coroner’s office she analyzed gunshot residue on hands and clothing, hairs, fibers, paint, glass, DNA, blood and many other forms of trace evidence, as well as crime scenes. Now she’s a certified latent print examiner and CSI for the Cape Coral Police Department in Florida. Her books have been translated into six languages and one reached the NYT mass market bestseller’s list.